Joan Molloy Slack
Joan Molloy Slack, B.A., M.A., is a ceramicist and fiber artist who works in many ways- as a sculptor, potter, hand-builder, tile maker, felt-maker, teacher and workshop presenter. Her current work ranges from hand carved tiles to large sculptural and wall pieces , each series informing the other. In addition to exhibiting in her own showroom, she is represented by a variety of galleries across the United States. An avid outdoors woman and traveler, she is inspired by the natural world, culture, archaeology and history. She has been involved in several exhibitions relating to environmental issues of our time. Madeline Island in Lake Superior is true home, where the water, stories, stones and trees inspire much of her art-making.
Joan holds a Masters Degree in Visual Arts with an emphasis in Ceramics, has taught at the high school through college level in the public and private school systems. She currently conducts Art and travel courses in the United States, Mexico, France, Ireland and Scotland. During the last 8 years she has focused full time on creating in clay, teaching workshops and exhibiting her work.
About the Artwork
“Two Voices, Many Rivers”
As I thought about the effects of mining in the pristine Penokee Mountains, and the possible risks to our water, plants, animals and soil, the images portrayed in “Two Voices, Many Rivers ” express my concern. I chose to include the human form, two beings in dialog through their drums, an ancient communication tool among all cultures. The fish symbolizes the impact on voiceless species and how every living thing is affected by our choices. Water is the essential element for life. It must be protected, and the best way to do that is avoid damage in the first place, which is what I imagine these figures are conversing about.
My sculptural, functional and tile work in clay contains a visual story: some of the story is clear, other parts mysterious. The stories are inspired by ancient alphabets, and watching and reading the natural history of birds, trees, water and forest beings. Mythology and archaeology lend themselves to symbol and translation, and the end result is my own story, my own version. After coiling a large round base, a brooding raven or two come to roost on the rim, or remembered carving from a Neolithic beaker finds its way to the surface design, altered as I connect it to other marks in my memory. This is what I love about the flexibility of clay- the perfect medium to use when the neurons spark, and form/idea/story click and connect into an entirely new translation.
I enjoy the contrast to clay with fiber arts, with pictorial felt-making my main focus. The color and flexibility of fiber allows me to create works with symbolism, fantasy and juxtapositions of natural scenes and mythological. I create work that is meant to be viewed as art, combining wet and needle felting for unique effects. Similar themes run through all the media in which I work.